Parvovirus warning issued following deaths of four dogs

An outbreak of the parvovirus has killed four dogs and caused the temporary closure of the Humane Society in the past month.

One dog from Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts (CARE) died last week, two puppies were reported dead to the Humane Society, and five more recovered after being taken to the shelter.

The shelter was closed to new arrivals for a few days in order for dogs that had come into contact with the infected animals to be quarantined.

Animal welfare charities and veterinarians are asking pet owners to ensure their dogs are vaccinated.

Island Veterinary Services reported 15 cases in the past month, including two dogs that died.

Lesley Walker of the Humane Society said outbreaks of the virus, which can lie dormant in the environment for years, are more common during rainy season.

She said the shelter had taken in two dogs from West Bay around three weeks ago. One of them tested positive for parvovirus after being in the shelter for three days.

“That meant we had to quarantine all the animals that had been in the vicinity of those dogs,” she said.

The infected dog was taken to a veterinarian and subsequently recovered. Shortly after that, the Humane Society was alerted to a litter of puppies in the Swamp area that were seriously ill. Two of them died and the other five tested positive for parvovirus but recovered after treatment.

Lesley Agostinelli of CARE said the charity was called to assist a family in Rock Hole with two sick dogs, that later tested positive for parvovirus. One of the dogs, Hershey, died from the virus. The other, Tiny, recovered.

“The only way past this disease is to get your pups vaccinated,” she said. “Owners should also make sure their dogs are up to date with their annual shots.”

According to CARE, the virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, fever or low body temperature, vomiting and severe, often bloody, diarrhea.

Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. CARE advises pet owners to contact their veterinarian immediately if their dog displays any of the listed symptoms.

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